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7 Autism-Friendly Summer Activities: Enhancing Fun with ABA

7 Autism-Friendly Summer Activities: Enhancing Fun with ABA

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For caregivers and parents of children and teenagers with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), summertime can be an excellent time to create enriching experiences that promote social, behavioral, and cognitive expansion. However, summers with autism can also be challenging for some neurodiverse families for a variety of reasons related to their loved one’s ASD diagnosis. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be.

Many parents ask, “What are some great summer activities for children with autism?

Fortunately, there are many autism-friendly summer activities that neurodivergent families can engage in to enjoy more amazing summers with ASD and improve the season year after year. These activities may include playful endeavors, such as splashing around, enjoying summer crafting, and getting outdoors! All these options help families navigate the summer season for better experiences while living life on the spectrum.

In this guide by ABA Centers of Pennsylvania, we’ll explore what parents can do to ensure a better, safer summer season for their loved ones on the spectrum. We will also share engaging indoor and outdoor autism-friendly summer activities that can help make the season enjoyable with ASD in mind. Finally, we’ll provide insight into how incorporating ABA principles into these activities can enhance your child’s learning potential and create more positive associations with summer.

Ultimately, taking a few small steps can ease concerns for ASD families during the summer season. So, let’s dive into some exciting summer activities that you and your neurodiverse navigators can enjoy this summer and next!  

Visit us here for more information about ABA Centers of Pennsylvania and how we serve the autism community in regions like King of Prussia and Philadelphia. You can also read other blogs about autism and ABA therapy here.

Why Planning Autism-Friendly Summer Activities Matters

In many cases, the summer season brings a change in routine and structure, which can be difficult for neurodiverse individuals to engage in or adapt to. Rigidity and having trouble during transitions can be a challenge for many with ASD. The following are a few variables that can make summers difficult with autism; they include but are not limited to:

  • Overall change
  • Increases in sensory stimulation
  • Higher demands for social participation

However, by planning autism-friendly summer activities ahead of time, individuals with ASD can have more opportunities to have a blast and limit triggers. In most cases, planning autism-friendly summer activities adds more structure to traditional summer gatherings.

Furthermore, planning autism-friendly summer activities offers parents peace of mind, knowing their children have safe activities on their summer schedule.

What Is ABA? How Can It Support Better Summers with Autism?

According to Autism Speaks, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy provides a behavioral approach to addressing ASD symptoms that helps individuals with the condition thrive across environments. ABA achieves this by focusing on autonomy and life skills that lend themselves to all areas of life.

When incorporating ABA principles into summer activities, parents and caregivers can create environments and activities that promote learning and development while still being personal. Most parents and providers have the most success with this by understanding their child’s individual needs, strengths, and interests. From there, caregivers can help create more custom activities that include accommodations in some cases to enhance cheerful summers with autism.

Seven Autism-Friendly Summer Activities Enhanced by ABA Principles

Here are a few summer activities that many on the spectrum from all walks of life enjoy during the summer season. When planning your loved one’s summer activities, make sure to schedule them at consistent times each day and communicate the plans clearly beforehand to ensure they are appropriate and suitable to the individual!  

1. Water Play

Splashing around is a classic summer activity that can be adapted to incorporate ABA principles and be highly engaging for those on the spectrum. Whether it’s playing in a pool, sprinkler, or water table, activities with water can provide sensory stimulation and more opportunities for social interaction for those with ASD who appreciate it.

Caregivers can also enhance the learning potential of water play by incorporating tasks such as pouring and measuring water, filling containers, counting objects in the water, and following directions to turn the hose off and on.

2. Scavenger Hunts

Scavenger hunts are an excellent way to promote problem-solving, communication, and collaboration in ASD children while having fun outdoors. You can create a custom scavenger hunt with pictures or words depending on your child’s capabilities and passions. For example, if they love Paw Patrol, include themes from the show in your clues or prizes.

To incorporate ABA principles in this game, try setting specific goals, such as finding a certain number of items or completing the hunt within a time frame. Additionally, use prompts like visuals when appropriate.

3. Arts and Crafts

Arts and crafts projects offer endless opportunities for creativity and self-expression in neurodiversity and neurotypical individuals. Crafting can also enhance fine motor skills, following directions, and hand-eye coordination for those with autism. Additionally, creating art can also demonstrate the gratifying process of completing a project.

To enhance this activity’s ABA potential, incorporate techniques such as breaking down crafting into tiny steps and using positive reinforcement to help your child stick to finishing the project.

4. Outdoor Adventures

Getting outdoors is great for everyone’s physical and mental wellness. Fortunately, summer provides ample opportunities for outdoor adventures with autism. Whether it’s a quiet nature walk, bike ride, or trip to the park, you can incorporate ABA principles by setting goals related to behaving appropriately outdoors. These goals may include teaching skills like following safety rules, taking turns on equipment, or identifying objects in nature.

Furthermore, parents and providers can utilize natural elements like leaves or rocks children find outside as rewards when practicing positive behaviors. Incorporating natural elements like these can also make the activity educational and provide opportunities for imaginative play or curiosity.

5. Cooking and Baking

Cooking and baking can be fun ways to engage children with autism while also teaching them an essential life skill. To include ABA in this activity, create a visual schedule of recipe steps and reinforce the child each time they complete a step accurately.

You can also tailor recipes to your child’s interests or dietary needs to make the results more enjoyable, like buying a Disney-inspired cookbook and remaking your child’s existing favorites. Remember to focus on the process rather than the result to promote follow-through, self-assurance, and confidence.

6. Music Play

Music and movement are great ways to enlist children with autism in a calming and therapeutic activity at any time of year. Furthermore, music can promote self-expression, both indoors and outdoors. Planning dance parties outside or listening to music on a cozy summer night indoors under excellent lighting are examples of awesome autism-friendly summer activities.

Caregivers can also incorporate ABA principles into musical play by setting targets related to following rhythms, singing, or playing an instrument. Additionally, caregivers can implement positive reinforcement in music play by allowing children to select song choices and instruments or choose where and how to move.

7. Field Trips

Summer can be a fabulous time for outings to local museums, zoos, or other places of interest for your child with autism. These trips provide opportunities for new sensory experiences, social interactions, and introductions to unfamiliar topics.

To incorporate ABA learning during your outing, discuss appropriate behavior in public settings, like waiting appropriately to pay for something or keeping voice volume at the proper level.

Enhancing Your Child’s Summer with Autism-Friendly Summer Activities That Include ABA Can Make All the Difference!

With these ABA principles in mind, you can make this summer a fun and rewarding experience for your neurodivergent child and your entire family unit. When designing your incredible summer autism activities, feel free to get creative and think outside the box! In most cases, adapting activities to your child’s individual preferences leads to much better results in whatever you are teaching or exploring.

We hope these tips and ideas have been helpful in planning a fun and meaningful summer for your child with ASD. So, keep exploring, learning, and having fun! Happy playing!

More Amazing Summers Start with ABA Centers of Pennsylvania

ABA Centers of Pennsylvania offers exceptional ABA therapy services for children with ASD alongside diagnostic services for autism. Our ABA team creates custom ABA therapy plans for every child so they can strive towards their full potential all year long, not just during summer.

Contact us today via this link or at (844) 444-7496 to learn more about our ABA approach to ASD services and how we can support you and your child on their journey on the spectrum.

So don’t hesitate to reach us.

Together with ABA Centers of Pennsylvania, we can make this summer one to remember!

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